Fifth place and over 30 seconds down on his rally-leading team-mate, who theoretically had a worse road position than him, didn’t represent the ideal Friday for Esapekka Lappi.
But the most bizarre of features may have spared him from retiring from Acropolis Rally Greece altogether.
A restaurant tap!
You see, Lappi was struggling for confidence aboard his Hyundai i20 N Rally1, but that wasn’t his only issue on the Acropolis’ first full day.
On SS4, the Finn also had to contend with a leaking radiator – most likely caused by a severe compression the stage before which had been formed after the heavy rain that battered the Lamia region earlier in the week.
Nosing the ground meant Lappi’s splitter was damaged, and so was the radiator.
“When we came to the stop line on SS4, we saw the low water pressure alarm and then found the leak,” Lappi explained.
“I think it’s both sides of the radiator which got damaged; we managed to fix the front, but the rear we couldn’t.
“We have been adding water at the stage finishes as well as some other locations – we saw a tap outside a restaurant, so we got some from there as well!”
Resourcefulness at its finest. But it’s of course not the first time Lappi has reached for external water sources to keep his Rally1 car going.
Remember Rally Finland last year when he rolled on the final day and ran to a nearby lake to top up his Toyota?
Anyway, Lappi was keen to stress the radiator wasn’t his real problem.
“Regardless, today’s main struggle was not this problem with the car, but more the conditions on the stages. I never felt really satisfied,” he continued.
“We tried something new, but I think we need to go back to my normal setup. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow; today we tried to maximize the grip but we compromised elsewhere, and I didn’t feel comfortable.
“I’d like to take a more cautious approach that allows me to push.”
Thierry Neuville had no such problems on that front, taking the lead of the rally on Friday’s first stage and never looking back.
But he too was suffering an issue aboard his Hyundai, which he did well to hide beyond a brief remark about a broken rear diff at the end of the final stage.
“Yeah the clutch was slipping,” Neuville told DirtFish. “It’s a problem we have had in the past and I was surprised it appeared again.
“But I had it since this morning on the launches and obviously in the last stage it just went and was really bad.
“Every first, second, third gear acceleration I couldn’t go full throttle because it was too much torque for the clutch and it was spinning, so yeah I was obviously losing time and the drivability of the car is less good, but I managed to get through.
“I was using a lot the handbrake to make the car rotate and it worked.”
Otherwise though, Neuville had little to complain about – even if Sébastien Ogier is just 2.8 seconds behind overall.
“[It went] as good as I hoped,” he smiled. “And probably expected as well.”